Sherwood Sagedahl didn’t get started running until after he retired. That was in the late 1990s.
Now 76, Sagedahl has registered for nine competitions in the National Senior Games (July 3-16) – the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 800 and 1500-meter races, discus, long jump and javelin. It’s a busy schedule, he admits.
“But you’re only old once,” said Sagedahl, who lives in Fairmont, Minn. “You’ve got to do what you can do while you can do it.”
Sagedahl played some sports in high school, including track. He’d spent his career as a high-school coach and played occasional basketball for fun.
But it had been about four decades since he’d been seriously athletic when his three children, all runners, visited Sagedahl and his wife in their winter home in Arizona and invited him to join them for a run.
“I didn’t do too badly, so they said, ‘You oughta take up running.’”
Next thing he knew he had entered his first 5K, at age 60.
“I was apprehensive,” he said. “I didn’t train that well. Needless to say, it was kind of a chore, probably my slowest time ever. I thought, hey, you’d better work a little harder if you’re going to continue to do that stuff. Takes a lot of training to run those things and be competitive.”
He kept at it, running road races and competing as a sprinter in state senior games in Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota. He qualified for his first National Senior Games 10 years ago and has been to every one since then.
He likes the challenge of training to compete.
“Not necessarily to win — I’ve won my share, but let’s see what time I can get.”
When he’s in Arizona he goes for 2- to 5-mile runs. When he’s in Minnesota he hits the track. He lifts weights. Needless to say, he’s in good shape, not to mention healthy and injury free.
He recalls an incident some years ago, when a neighbor in Fairmont spotted him at the end of a sprint, bent over and breathing hard. “What are you trying to do, have a heart attack?” the neighbor asked.
“No,” Sagedahl told him. “I’m trying to prevent one.” □